TRURO - As soon as Arash Madani heard about the Cougar Dome project, he jumped on board.
© File photo
Truro native Arash Madani has thrown his support behind the Cougar Dome project. The 33-year-old reporter for Rogers Sportsnet in Toronto said he feels the project will put aspiring athletes in Colchester County on par with those across the rest of Canada.
The Truro native, who now lives in Toronto and works as a reporter for Rogers Sportsnet, instantly recognized the value of the 50,000-square-foot (350 feet by 140 feet), indoor athletic complex when he first heard about it.
"The biggest thing about a project like this is it gives the kids of Truro the same opportunities as kids in Toronto, kids in Vancouver because they'll have a facility they can train, practice and compete in 365 days a year," the 33-year-old, who graduated from CEC in 1997, said over the phone from Regina, where he is covering the lead up to Sunday's Grey Cup . "I didn't think I would ever see that in Truro in my lifetime and I just hope people appreciate and understand what this means for the area."
So Madani donated $100 to the project, the first gift the fundraising team received after starting its campaign.
"He got everything rolling for us," Cougar Dome manager Tanya Colburne said.
The dome, which should be operational the first week of December, will feature six tennis courts, a three-lane synthetic running track and 16,000 square feet of artificial turf, which can be moved or increased in size. It will also include track and field jumping pits and a 12-bay golf range.
The $2.2-million dome, which is pressurized and held up by air, will be open for public use and free to the 21,000 students in the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board.
Scott Annand, who has been spearheading the project as president of the Cobequid Society of Athletic Excellence, got the idea for the complex after receiving a $500,000 donation from a Truro family. Since then, the project has raised more than $1.7 million as Colburne said organizers pursue their goal of building it debt free.
The team is currently trying to raise an additional $150,000 through the web-based Aviva Community Fund, which sees hundreds of projects across the country vying for votes.
The Scotia Pool is also in the running and both projects are in the third round of the competition. To vote for them, log onto www.avivacommunityfund.org. The Cougar Dome's designated project number is ACF18482 and Scotia Pool's number is ACF17434.
Voting continues until Monday at noon.
"It would be incredibly significant to win that money," Colburne said. "Of the $300,000 remaining, the $150,000 would get us halfway there."
Madani said he feels the project is worthwhile because it will give residents of Colchester County access to an affordable way to get active as well as also helping those who want to pursue elite athletics, be it through university, amateur or professional sports, the chance to chase those dreams.
"It'll really give all those kids who want to get after it the chance to do so in their back yard," Madani said.
Thinking back to growing up in Truro, Madani said he knew of several athletes who had immense talent, but were always at the mercy of Nova Scotia weather in their respective sports.
Now that he works with pro athletes on a daily basis, Madani knows what kind of dedication it takes to get to the highest levels of athletics.
"Not many of those guys had silver spoons in their mouths," he said. "They went out and worked for it but they also had the facilities to do it."
On Twitter: @tdnmatt